I’m kind of a broth geek, from way back. And since I’ve learned about bone broth, I’m a raving lunatic about it. I love it. It’s my new Best Friend Forever. Bone broth is so rich and delicious. It’s ridiculously easy to make. It’s also so cheap to make that it will make any tightwad burst out in joyful song. It smells my house up in the nicest possible way you can imagine. And it’s about as good for you as it can possibly be. What could be better?
Am I excited about bone broth? Yes. Am I exaggerating about its goodness? I wouldn’t do that to you, Gentle Reader, not in a million-trillion-bajillion years. Nope.
Bone Broth: just another fad?
(I’m so excited about bone broth, I’m going to throw in some larger letters. See? What do you think??)
Homemade stock, of course, is not a new thing. It’s one of those things that is so old, it’s new again. In nearly all tradition cuisines, stocks and broths made from fish, chicken, vegetables, and beef have played a big role in cooking, and in staying healthy, for that matter. In the early days here in the U.S., when an animal was slaughtered, nothing went to waste. The bones, the tail, tougher pieces of meat, everything went into the stock pot. The flavorful and nutritious broth that was the result went into soups, stews, and gravies.
Bone Broth: sounds sketchy–is it good for you?
Since I’m getting all fancy with the larger letters and whatnot, I’ll totally blow your mind by typing this out, list-style. I think they call this “wildly impressive formatting” or something. Can you tell I’m taking my humble little blog to the next level? Just watch me. Here are a few facts about the goodness-for-you-ness of bone broths:
1. Bone broths are packed with nutrients, particularly minerals and amino acids, and the family of collagens which work to keep your joints healthy–do glucosamine and chondroitin sound familiar? Probably they do, because that’s what is in the tablets that everybody takes for joint health. Bone broth is loaded with these collagens, baby. Absopositively loaded. And yes, I just made up that word. Absopositively. Hmm. I like it!
2. Your liver is under assault on a daily basis, because of pollution, toxins in our food, chemicals in the world we live in, stresses-which-we-can’t-seem-to-get-away-from-*sigh*-despite-our-best-efforts, and so on. In order to rid itself of these toxins, this quiet yet vitally important organ needs to have plenty of the amino acid glycine available for its use. Guess which amino acid is plentiful in Bone broth? Yup. You got that right. Glycine. So your liver is going to function more effectively– doing its detoxifying and cleansing thing that it does so well–if you’re drinking bone broth, preferably on a daily basis.
And yup. We do try to drink this magical elixir daily at our house, either in soups or just in a big steaming mug.
Bone broth is rich in another amino acid, Proline, which plays a role in reversing atherosclerotic deposits. It enables the blood vessel walls to release cholesterol buildups into your blood stream, decreasing the size of potential blockages in your heart and the surrounding blood vessels. Isn’t that awesome? Doesn’t that give you hope for a healthy heart, in this age when heart disease is such a threat to health?
3. Bone broths are rich in gelatin, which supports your digestive health. Here’s a note that should give every one of us serious pause, so I will type it in another color: many doctors forecast a day when autoimmune diseases will be the number 1 cause of death in the Western world. These diseases–Celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, and Thyroid disease, just to name a few–are becoming more and more prevalent in our modern world. Bad news, baby.
Gut hyperpermeability is believed by many to be one factor leading to the increase in numbers of autoimmune diseases. In other words: simply put: your intestinal lining is supposed to be permeable in order for nutrients to pass through. However, this lining can become too permeable due to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, stress, long-term contraceptive use, other medications, as well as bacterial and fungal overgrowths. In essence, the pores in the gut which let out the good stuff get too big and the bad stuff gets out, too. You’ve probably heard about this before, as “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
After some time, the confused immune system goes into overdrive and starts to attack the very foods you eat–leading to what we call food sensitivities. Over time, this can turn into an autoimmune issue by which your immune system thinks your thyroid, or your liver, or your skin, or whatever–is the enemy, and attacks it. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? That’s because (hello) it is scary.
Do you know what can help heal a leaky gut? (Wait for it.) That’s right, the gelatin in bone broth can help heal a leaky gut and thus, your potentially-confused immune system. It really is amazing stuff.
Gelatin? In my soup? What the heck?
Okay, so you’re hung up on the gelatin. Oh-kay. Have you heard the old saying “You are what you eat?” Well, that’s not strictly accurate. Actually, you are what you absorb. An unhealthy gut doesn’t absorb well, no matter how much goodness you consume. What does this have to do with gelatin, you ask?
Good question! Gelatin–once a staple in a person’s diet, back when rich bone stocks and soups were simmered on the wood stove in everybody’s kitchen–is no longer a part of your average modern American’s diet. That is, it’s not in the average uninformed American’s diet. You, Gentle Reader, obviously do not belong in this category, aren’t you relieved? Check out that can or box (or–*shudder*–bouillon cube) of broth in your cabinet. No gelatin. Not a single blob of it.
One of the best ways to heal an unhealthy gut is with gelatin. And (connecting the dots here, Gentle Reader, just for you) drinking bone broth is the easiest way to get lots of gelatin into your gut. Isn’t that awesome? Isn’t that exciting? And you don’t have to order it online, or travel to the city to get it. You can make it in your own humble kitchen.
4. Bone broth can help you get over colds, flus, and upper respiratory infections faster. Yup. Your Grandma was right. Bone broths, with their high nutrient content and goodness, can cut the duration of any colds or flus you unhappily may catch. I try to keep a supply of bone broth in the freezer, and it’s so easy to defrost it in the middle of the afternoon, bring it to a simmer on the stovetop and add vegetables that my family likes, homemade noodles or rice, and some already-cooked chicken meat into it for a soup that makes any sickie feel better. It’s delicious, too. Bone broth is a richer broth and my family adores the soups that I make from it. Great soup-making depends on really tasty broths. And you can’t discount the “Mom loves me–she made me soup” factor in getting over colds or the flu!
5. Bone broth is great for your hair, your nails, and your skin.
With its high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content, Bone broth is good for your hair, your nails, your skin, not to mention your bones and teeth. This could be an ad campaign: “Want to be beautiful? Skip the facelift–drink Bone Broth!”
Oh, I can just SEE the Advertising Campaign:
Bone broth: Geez, must be expensive to make!
Here’s some good news for you, Gentle Reader. Not only is bone broth as easy to make as, say, falling off a proverbial log, it is very cheap to make, since the ingredients that go into it are generally thrown away.
“Don’t throw away those celery leaves, kids! Throw them into the bone broth!”
That’s partly what I love about making bone broth: it’s so doggone thrifty. You don’t waste a thing from your kitchen when you start a bone broth-making routine.
Have I convinced you yet? Have I coaxed or wheedled or cajoled you enough into considering making a batch of bone broth? I hope so! I have super-easy instructions below. (There are so many ways to do this, but this is how I make chicken bone broth, in our research kitchens here at vomitingchicken.com/hehee).
How to Make Your Own Bone Broth
First, roast a chicken. If you have a bag of assorted bones in the freezer leftover from other chicken-related projects (this would include, for me, backs and necks) add them during the last half and hour or so, just to brown them. Pick the meat from the bones and eat, or reserve, or a little of both. 🙂
You can use a large stock pot to make your bone broth, or do what I do and use your biggest crock pot. Put the following into it:
- your chicken bones
- 2 chicken feet (if you have them*) for extra gelatin
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 onion, with the skin
- 2 carrots, cut into pieces
- 3 stalks of celery, with leaves
- Other veg scraps that you have (although I stay away from the cabbage family)
- Optional: a handful of parsley or other herbs, 1 Tb sea salt, 1 tsp peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves.
I cover all this with a few quarts of water, and let it all soak for about a half an hour before I turn on the crock-pot. This is supposed to give the cider vinegar some time to do its work, leaching minerals from the bones. Then I turn on my crock-pot to High and bring it all to a simmer. I skim off any foam off the top when it occurs (there’s not usually very much) and push the bones down under the broth every now and then. When it’s bubbling nicely, I turn it down to low.
After 48 hours, I scoop the whole mess out, and chill the broth overnight, removing the fat from the top. Your bone broth is now ready to use. I do a second broth-making, too, by dumping everything back into the pot and simmering it all for another 24 hours. The resulting “second broth” is not as tasty as the first, but I know that it is still nutritious and is good for soups or sauces. If I’m going to drink the broth straight, or make a delicate soup (egg drop or chicken noodle, anybody?) then I use the first broth.
There! See? Sooo easy. I raise my own chickens, so I know exactly what goes into their bones (I’m pretty picky about that). If you don’t, you’ll want to find pastured chickens (check the farmers in your area, or check out the local farmer’s markets or actually there are online sources, too) or chickens that are raised without hormones or antibiotics, since you don’t want any of that nastiness in your soup.
You can also make bone broth from beef bones, fish bones, and other types of bones. I’d stay away from opossum bones, for obvious reasons. I’m hoping to snag some deer bones from my hunter friends this year, because they make excellent bone broth, too, which I love to make into Garlic Piperade Soup.
Happy broth making, Gentle Reader!
*Doesn’t everybody have a supply of chicken feet in the freezer? Okay, well, if you don’t, maybe you can ask the local small chicken processor for them, or ask around in your conscientious-natural-eating circles and you may find some. In any case, they are optional but it’s awfully fun to throw them in! (See picture below.)
Some more soup recipes (’tis the season!) you might want to check out:
Superfluous Rooster and Dumplings (well, it’s kinda like a soup)
Now maybe it’s time for you to get that big pot out and make some bone broth!
Thanks, always, for stopping by!
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- Surprising chickens: bobbing for corn on the cob, and winter feeding tips
- The day I saw my dog’s brain